More of us do it than we’d like to admit – and many are kept up at night by their partner’s habit. What we’re talking about is snoring. It’s said that up to half of all adult Americans snore. But what causes it to happen, and can it be cured?
In essence, snoring happens when air flows through your throat as you breathe during sleep. The tissues in your throat are relaxed, so they vibrate and lead to the snoring sound we all know and hate. Even if you’ve found a way to cope with your partner’s racket, or you find that your own snoring isn’t affecting your sleep too much, it’s still important to look into its cause. This is because it could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as obesity, sleep apnea, or an issue with the way your mouth, nose or throat is structured.
What causes snoring?
While there are many causes for snoring, some of them are fairly common, so we’ve outlined them below.
Obesity: Carrying extra weight around your neck or throat can lead to snoring. This can often be remedied by exercising and losing weight to lose the fatty tissue and poor muscle tone.
Age: Those who are middle aged and over will have their throat become narrower. What’s more, the muscle tone in this area will go down. It may seem like this cause doesn’t have a cure, but there are remedies such as lifestyle changes, throat exercises and bedtime routines which can all help.
Sinus and nasal issues: If you have blocked airways or a stuffed up nose, inhaling can become more difficult and cause a vacuum in the throat, which results in snoring.
Back sleeping: Those who sleep flat on their backs will have the flesh in their throat relax and block the airway. As you may guess, changing sleep position will help in this case.
Build and gender: Men will be more likely to snore than women due to the fact they have narrower air passages. There are also physical conditions such as enlarged adenoids, a cleft palate or being born with a narrower throat which can also contribute to a snoring issue. As with the age cause, you can help yourself by making lifestyle changes, switching up your bedtime routine and carrying out throat exercises.
Smoking, alcohol and medication: Those who smoke, regularly drink alcohol or take certain kinds of medication which relax the muscles will be more likely to snore.
When is snoring a serious issue?
Sometimes, snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. This is a serious sleep condition whereby your breathing gets interrupted several times during the night. If you suffer from extreme tiredness and fatigue each day, you could have sleep apnea or a similar breathing problem related to your sleep. These are the symptoms which indicate you should see a doctor:
Interruptions in breathing during sleep
Gasping or choking during sleep
Falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day
Snoring loudly and heavily
Feeling tired during the day
Linking how you snore to why you snore
Closed mouth snoring – Indicates there could be a problem with your tongue
Open-mouth snoring – A sign there could be an issue with your throat tissues
Back sleeper snoring – Mild snoring which can be improved with sleep and lifestyle changes
Snoring in all sleep positions – There may be a serious issue; contact your doctor
How to stop snoring: home remedies
Elevate the top of your bed – This will keep your airways open and may help to reduce the amount of snoring
Lose weight – If you are overweight, making this lifestyle change will help to decrease the amount of throat tissue you have
Change your sleeping position – Sleeping on your side allows air to flow more easily than if you’re on your back. This can reduce your snoring or stop it altogether
Use nasal strips – You can purchase stick-on nasal strips, which are put on the bridge of the nose to increase the amount of space in your nasal passage. Breathing will become a more effective process, aiding with snoring
Use a nasal dilator – This is a stiff adhesive strip which is placed across the top of the nose. It works by decreasing the amount of airflow resistance and making it easier to breathe
Avoid alcohol at bedtime – Drinking alcohol in the hours before going to bed can relax the muscles in your throat and result in snoring
Don’t take sedatives before you sleep – Ask your doctor if there are other options, as stopping the use of sedatives before bed can have an impact on the severity of your snoring
How to stop snoring: Treatments and surgeries
Ensure chronic allergies are treated – If you’re prone to allergies, it’s worth considering that these can reduce the airflow through your nose. When you’re forced to breathe through your mouth, you’re more likely to snore. Your doctor will know about any prescription or over the counter medications which could help with your specific condition and therefore ease your snoring
Use a dental mouthpiece – Known as oral appliances, these help to keep your air passages open, therefore making it easier to breathe. You can get in touch with your dentist to have one made
Use a CPAP machine – A pressurized air mask, called a continuous positive airway pressure machine, can be worn over the nose during sleep to help keep the airways open. This is a treatment medically recommended for many who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
Get the pillar procedure – If you get this treatment, you’ll have strands of polyester filament, called palatal implants, injected into the soft palate of your mouth. These work by stiffening this area to reduce snoring
Address structural problems in your nose – Some people will either be born with or suffer from an injury which leaves them with a deviated septum. This is also known as a misalignment of the wall which separates the two sides of the nose, resulting in a restriction of airflow. Surgery may be necessary to correct this condition
Get somnoplasty – This treatment, also referred to as radiofrequency tissue ablation, makes use of low-intensity radio waves to shrink your soft palate tissue
Get uvulopalatopharyngoplasty – Shortened to UPPP, this surgery tightens up throat tissue in an effort to reduce snoring. Another option is laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or LAUPPP, which can be more effective than UPPP
Imogen is editor-in-chief of Hot5. She is also a lifestyle blogger, author and freelance journalist, with particular interests in music, politics, psychic readings and dating. She is usually found at home with her collection of animals, drinking iced tea.Read more.
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